I recently shucked a Blue Point oyster I had purchased from the local grocery store and something popped out of it. It was pinkish-orange, globular and seemingly gelatinous. This pea-sized object turned out to be firm on the outside and resembled some kind of life-form, though it did not move at all (thank God).
As anyone would, I immediately messaged the oyster scientist in our family to see if I should be worried about this thing. I sent her this photo:
My cousin Meredith White, PhD, and Director of Research and Development at Mook Sea Farm in Walpole, Maine quickly wrote back, "It is a pea crab. They can get much bigger than that. They live their entire lives inside bivalves like oysters, clams and scallops."
She assured me that the oyster itself was safe, and of the pea crabs, "…Some people eat them! They just pop them (live, raw) into their mouths," Meredith wrote. Apparently, George Washington enjoyed the little buggers sprinkled over his oyster stew like the tough-guy he was.
Though I like a good raw oyster, and realize how over-the-culinary-line that is for other people, I have to take a hard pass at a crunchy parasitic crab in my appetizer. So, if you come across a pea crab in your oyster and the oyster scientist in your family is unavailable for consultation, rest assured that pea crabs are harmless, and edible if you are so inclined.